What is all the fuss about having a strong core? Yes, of course we all want a smokin’ hot six pack, but is there a real benefit to tightening your tummy beyond the aesthetic? Short answer: Yes. And a lot of it has to do with having a healthier, stronger center and a less achey lower back.
Strong core muscles make it so much easier to do many of our daily physical activities—such as running errands, doing household chores, and moving every which way. When you use your core to bend, lift, twist, and reach you safeguard your lower back, shifting weight off of your spine and onto your abs and the muscles of your back.
Core exercises strengthen your abdominals, back muscles, obliques (sides), and muscles around the pelvis. But this doesn’t mean do a million crunches! That can only promise a sore back. What should you do instead?
Here are three exercises to do daily as you work toward a stronger core and a happier lower back: (more…)
Posted on April 17, 2023 by Katie McGrath
It is easy to want to avoid doing any type of exercise if your body is aching and in pain, but sometimes a little bit of movement is just what you need to loosen up and get back on your feet.
If you suffer from mild aches and pains due to overworked muscles, a long day of sitting the car, or a poor night’s sleep in an uncomfortable bed, the following yoga poses might give you a little bit of relief. Always be sure and check with your doctor if you are in chronic pain, as you may have a more serious condition that could require medical attention.
Knees to Chest
To smooth out a tight low back and give yourself a little TLC, lie on your back with both knees pulled into your chest. Begin to slowly rock side-to-side and allow for your low back to gently roll across the floor. This should feel as if you are getting a nice tension-relieving massage, and will iron out any knots or kinks you might have in your back. Stay in this pose as long as it takes to feel your muscles beginning to relax. (more…)
Posted on July 1, 2022 by Jill
Spending time in the garden is always a welcome activity, as the sunshine feels good and the fresh air brings hope for many enjoyable summer days to come. However, gardening can be exhausting, and if we are not careful, it might even be injurious.
The following are a few tips to keep your back in top shape as you spend long hours pulling weeds, hauling mulch, and performing other yard-centered activities.
Stand up often
Although it might seem like wasted time when you have a full day of yard work planned, standing up every five minutes will give your back a much needed break. When you spend too many hours slumped over your garden bed, it can be as bad for your spine as sitting slumped over in your recliner. So do yourself a favor and periodically stand up and stretch. (more…)
Posted on June 28, 2022 by Jill
Rounded shoulders, neck pain, and an aching low back are just a few of the side effects of having a desk job. Sitting for hours in front of a computer not only shortens your life expectancy; it can permanently affect your posture.
The following tips will help you maintain a healthy desk posture for increased energy, better health, and a reduction in bodily aches and pains.
Sit on your sit bones
The ischial tuberosities, otherwise known as the “sit bones,” comprise the base of the pelvis and set the foundation for proper sitting posture. Most of us tend to rock behind our sit bones, placing the low back in a stressful C-curve position. This constant misalignment negatively affects not just the low back, but also the shoulders and neck. (more…)
Posted on May 9, 2023 by Jill
Fall is a busy and active time of year. While many have been hectically scurrying to settle in to a new school year, others have been expending enormous amounts of energy winterizing the yard, gathering wood for the stove, and unpacking the shovels in anticipation of calorie-burning snow removal. These fall and winter activities take strength and stamina to endure.
A strong core is paramount to having increased energy and to prevent back pain or injury. The following are a few basic core exercises that will help you stack that last load of wood and leave you with enough energy to shovel yours and your neighbor’s drive.
No, this is not the same thing as the classic 1950’s physical education exercise that wreaked havoc on people’s lower backs. It is however, a more modern and adaptable version of it that is much more effective, plus a lot safer. (more…)
Posted on October 17, 2022 by Jill
If you’ve ever experienced foot, back or knee pain, then you know how debilitating it can be and how comforting a good pair of shoes can feel.
Still relishing in my “invincible youth,” I often neglect the need to take better care of my feet which translates to inadequate footwear – think $2 Old Navy flip flops. However, the older I get the more I realize that what I put on my feet directly affects my arches, joints, posture, and ultimately my ability to remain active over the course of my life. So when we recently received an offer to test out some Vionic Sandals from Orthaheel, I jumped at the chance.
Ironically enough, the week before my sandals arrived I started getting a sharp pain in my left heel that was sidelining me from my morning jogs. When the Vionic sandals arrived, it was like a big, comforting hug for my well-worn feet.
As we shared in a story earlier this year, Orthaheel is a collaberative project of Dr. Andrew Weil and Australian podiatrist Phillip Vasyli. Together, the pair saw a need for a fashionable shoe line that provided support for those experiencing foot, back or knee pain. The shoes are not only designed to correct alignment and posture problems, but also help prevent future pain and injuries from occurring. (more…)
Posted on August 28, 2022 by Dana
Instant gratification is attractive when it comes to fitness and weight loss. It is no surprise the diet and exercise equipment companies that flaunt quick results are the most successful at grabbing the attention and dollars of millions of consumers. There are people who don’t want to work very hard at getting fit or losing weight, and as a result they buy in to the latest pill or product that is going to make it easy, only to be let down and dissatisfied later.
However, I am a firm believer that with some things, a little bit can go a long way. In yoga for example, some benefits are felt instantly, and with little effort. While yoga is not necessarily the most efficient way to burn calories or increase cardiovascular stamina, it does indirectly improve overall health and wellbeing, and it doesn’t take much to notice results.
For those of you who are in need of some immediate benefits, you might be interested in learning about the following side effects you will notice instantly from practicing a little yoga. (more…)
Posted on February 28, 2023 by Jill
From the day after Thanksgiving up until the very last minute on Christmas Eve day, we find ourselves frantically racing around in our cars and walking for miles in the shopping mall. This tight schedule of spending, wrapping, stacking, and mailing off gifts in a busy post office where the line doesn’t seem to move at all can wreak havoc on our lower back, legs and feet if we are not careful. The following yoga poses will offer a reprieve from the stress our bodies endure while we are trying so hurriedly to be prepared for the big day.
Standing Forward Bend
It doesn’t matter if you are in your work clothes or donning your favorite shopping sweater; practice forward bending every chance you can get. Standing for hours while perusing the isles of robes, slippers and neck ties can tire out the muscles of your low back in a heartbeat. Take the stress off of it by doing a simple forward bend with both knees slightly bent and your feet hip width apart. When you are ready to come out of the pose, roll up slowly vertebra by vertebra and then roll your shoulders back and down upon standing.
Posted on November 29, 2022 by Jill
By Elena Rover for Fitness Magazine
There’s nothing like all-consuming back pain to make you want to become one with the couch. If you’ve been there, you know what we mean. If not, consider yourself lucky: It’s pretty easy to push your back’s intricately entwined bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments out of their comfort zone. “We see a lot of women in their 20s and 30s coming in with back pain because they’ve returned to a sport out of condition or suddenly upped their exercise intensity,” says Daveed Frazier, MD, an assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. “Our bodies just aren’t designed to absorb the abuse we give them.”
When pain strikes, your initial response might be to rest. “But even just a few days of lying idle can lead to deconditioning and further harm,” says Roger Chou, MD, director of clinical guidelines development for the American Pain Society (APS). “Staying active helps keep the muscles and tendons loose and strong.” In fact, the thinking about back pain has shifted so much that the APS and the American College of Physicians recently released new treatment guidelines. Read on for the latest in pain prevention.
Posted on November 25, 2022 by Fitness_Magazine
Planning on standing at the kitchen counter for hours preparing the Thanksgiving meal? Or perhaps you will be sitting in front of the television for hours while someone else prepares the Thanksgiving meal. Either way, your back is going to take a beating. The following gentle yoga inspired poses and stretches will help smooth out the kinks and restore your spine for a second helping of holiday fun.
Kitchen Counter Stretch
Place both hands on the edge of your kitchen counter. Take one big step back and fold forward from your hips, keeping both arms straight. Reach your hips back as you lower your chest in between your arms. Take five deep breaths and then stand up. Repeat as often as needed between mashing up the potatoes and stirring the turkey gravy.
Posted on November 7, 2022 by Jill
Running isn’t easy. At times it hurts. When the pain is more than the typical sore muscles and fatigue, there’s a problem. Thankfully there are answers. More often than not, the problems stem from the runner and not the activity itself.
I’ve had my share of pains through out my running career and thankfully I’ve had the help of a physical therapist to work through them and find their cause.
Like so many other therapists, assistant professor of physical therapy and director of the running clinic at Washington University in St. Louis, Gregory Holtzman, is helping runners overcome the technique problems that may be hurting them. In an article from MSNBC, we learned that Holtzman evaluates and records runners in his clinic to pin-point the issues that they are struggling with. He finds that there are five common issues that runners are diagnosed with in relation to their struggles.
Posted on June 24, 2022 by Lacy